Perspective

Perspective is an interesting thing.  Many of us don’t think about it and we should, especially when communicating (or attempting to) with one another.  Seeing things from others’ perspectives is sometimes helpful and can lead to new ideas and approaches to problems, and even bring about new and lasting relationships where there could have or would have been enmity for all time.  It can help us figure out why a person is acting or reacting in a certain way to a stimulus of some sort.  Perspective is very valuable.  That’s perspective in the human contact sense.  There are also other types of perspective.

Another type of perspective is that of the subjective and the objective, or near and far.  I use this type of perspective more and more as I become experienced at reading routes and climbing, especially outdoors.  From the perspective of a climber on the wall, finding those hidden holds, gaping caverns that they may be, can be difficult or impossible because you can’t necessarily see them while you’re on the wall.  From the perspective of the person belaying you on the ground, you’re missing the hero jug or the foothold made of gold and they’re shouting directions at you trying desperately to help you find that magical wonder of a bomber hold!  I’m finding out that it’s very important to scour the route with my eyes first from the ground, looking all around for potential hand- and footholds before I get up there and discover that I’m “out of holds”, which would really not be the case, but I would perceive it to be!  I have to be particularly aware from the ground perspective of holds that may be obscured from my vision while on the wall.  Those are often the ones that will save you on a route and that end up turning a flash attempt into a redpoint ascent if you don’t see them!  Now, the on-the-wall, contact-with-the-rock perspective has a lot more to it in terms of what your brain and body are dealing with in addition to just finding holds.  You’re trying to control your breathing, feeling a pump here or there, trying to find a good rest position, fighting through a crux, etc., etc., while trying to identify holds at the same time.  The thing you have to remember is that the holds don’t look the same from this perspective!  What looked like a bomber hold from the ground happened to be highlighted by a shadow from the sun, and now the hold is not only right in front of your nose (quite literally), but a cloud is temporarily obscuring your identification of the hold because that shadow is gone!  Another situation that is entirely possible is that you were looking at an unusable hold – it’s not solid or it breaks off…  Now what do you do?  Things like this require problem-solving skills in the frontal lobes, and at this point on the route, you may or may not be able to muster the rational muscle to think past this because you may or may not have enough oxygen getting to your brain!  All of these things have happened to me, and have most likely happened to any climber that climbs outside at all, really.  The things to remember are to monitor and control your breathing, and to rest when you find a good rest position – not just when you need to, because by then, it’s too late to recover sufficiently to climb much farther.  Stay calm.  You don’t have to set a speed record for the route.  Sending the route would be nice, and that’s why you need to pace yourself and pay attention to those things that pertain to an on-the-wall perspective vs. the on-the-ground perspective that you had earlier.  So, maybe you missed something from the ground perspective that you think you should’ve picked up on.  Oh, well!  That’s how you learn.  That’s the best way to learn for me.  I make the mistake, then I go back and say, “Oh, there’s that critical hold that I needed!”  Most of the time, it’s a fantastic foothold that I just couldn’t see while I was on the wall.  Sometimes it’s a sidepull or something like that, too.  There are times when I needed to simply move faster or slower and it would have made all the difference.  It’s all part of the journey!

In short, perspective can be everything, whether climbing or communicating with others.  Take a step back when something’s puzzling you or you feel like there might be more to the situation, because there probably is!

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